How to Find Your Passion and Stick to It
The adage goes: “Find your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life.” But what does that actually mean?
Passion is something that is supposed to define our lives; something that excites us and fires us up from within. It’s the thing that drives us, where working on it doesn’t feel like work at all.
It can be frustrating when we see the few who seem to find what they love doing at an early stage. But these individuals are exceptions rather than the norm. Most of us have absolutely no idea what our passion is, let alone how to make a living out of it. Outside of pursuing a well-paying job, surrounding ourselves with conventional amenities, it’s normal to feel confused about how to find the path leading us to feel satisfied and fulfilled.
Does that mean that people who find their passions are geniuses and the majority of us will never be like that?
Quite the contrary.
The word passion is often marketed as a magical solution to all life’s problems. But what if we could look at it as an inclination, as something we are innately good at or inclined to? The truth is, we’re all good at something. Finding a passion is entirely possible, for everyone, as is sticking with it. Once we cut through the clutter of cultural ideals about passion, we can change our perspective and unlock our path.
Debunking the myths
Our ideas about the world are shaped by the culture we grow up in. We learn to perceive certain things as cool, glamorous, good, or worthy. And other things as boring, nerdy, low, or unworthy. When we think of choosing our passion, this social conditioning can play a part and can cause us to turn away from our true passion
Or, we think we have found our passion and pursue it with a lot of zeal. Except, the interest fizzles out, taking away our drive to keep doing it. Maybe we blame it on laziness or incompetence or use external factors like funds or opportunities as our reason for failure.
All of these may seem unconnected, simply a list of different reasons many of us never find our passion. But all of these failures are the result of believing various myths perpetuated by our global culture. So the first thing we need to do is debunk them.
You won’t feel like it’s work
However passionate we may be about something, we will still need to work hard to make it stick or derive satisfaction from it. For example, we may absolutely love cooking, but in order to master a multitude of culinary skills, we will have to dedicate hours and hours in the kitchen. Not everything we try will end up successful, leading to frustrations. And the better we get, the harder we have to push ourselves to continually improve.
No matter what our passion is, pursuing it will take focus and work. Simply because it drives us forward, doesn’t mean it won’t be hard or that we won’t face obstacles. We will. Passion doesn’t mean an absence of difficulties. It simply means we find reason to push forward, no matter what.
It has to be something special.
The idea of having special or unique talents is shaped by our surroundings. Traveling around the world building schools or digging wells may seem a very passionate pursuit. But if our passion is helping people, a simple customer care job, teaching, or health care are all careers that can feed that same passion… Sure, those career paths may not sound as glamorous, but they can be just as fulfilling.
Having a passion is not about finding something special to do When we find what we are truly passionate about, we’ll wake up looking forward to our workday, not because it’s glamorous or easy, but because it fulfills our inner drive. Doing what we love is about sparking our inner peace. And for that to happen, we have to look inside ourselves, not outside.
What we seek is already within us
Whatever our passion is, chances are we’re already doing it. Once we get rid of the myths holding us back, we can unlock the map to find our true passion.
We may think we know the best for us, but that is often not the case for a variety of reasons. First, we’re constantly learning. And this extends to our inner selves as well. We discover new things about our inner drive, our emotions, our motivations throughout our lives. We’re also continuously changing. Who we were even a year ago can often be dramatically different as events and experiences shape us. Finally, we’re too close. Many times the hardest person to assess is ourselves. To discover our passion, we need to develop sharp self-awareness.
Start with mindfulness practices. We do a lot of things out of habit, without thinking. Start taking note of each of those actions. When do we engage in these habits? How do we feel while we’re doing them? Are we content? Or simply waiting for the task to be over? Set aside time to reflect on our observations. Peel back the behaviors to their core motivations, focusing on what triggers these habits. This will help us identify patterns in our behaviors, and with careful examination, we can find the underlying themes driving our actions.
Find the common thread
What we’re passionate about tends to run through all of our varied interests like a common thread.
Suppose comic books, watercolor painting, gardening, dressmaking, and sumo wrestling have held our interest at various points. Some of these interests have stayed consistent while others have fizzled out. But no matter what our interest, we always wrote about them. Maybe we’ve kept a blog, or written extensively in a journal. Perhaps we simply engage on social media avidly and enthusiastically.
All of those above are what interests us. But writing would be our passion.
Our passion is the thing that ties together all the things we keep going back to. Instead of looking at the broad subjects of our interests, we need to dive deep into our motivations. Maybe we always organize things, be it events or chore lists. Or we always find ourselves at the center of teaching co-workers how to master the newest program update. How can we put that passion and skill to work for us?
Practice, practice, practice
Once we’ve found the common thread, it’s time to practice. We need to hone and explore that ability, practicing, and building our skillset as frequently as possible.
As soon as we are comfortable, we need to then put our skills into the real world. If it’s writing we’re trying to master, we can join a writing group, where we share our work while asking and being open to feedback. If cooking is our passion, host more dinners or volunteer to cater a team lunch at work. Don’t think about returns, or what people will think––though taking feedback into account is important. The key is to enjoy what we are doing. The more we put ourselves, and our skills, into the world, the more likely opportunity will open for us.
Think of money as a byproduct
Money is important, there’s no denying it. But if all we think about is the monetary return, chances are we’ll be discouraged very soon.
It’s important to remember that while we may have a natural inclination for our passion, we still need time to develop our skills. That’s why it is a good idea to keep our passion separate from our primary financial source, at least initially. No matter what stage of life we’re in, from student level to career professional, developing our passion takes time and dedication. So be sure to plan a way to meet financial needs while we do just that.
The truth is, if we enjoy what we do, fulfillment won’t depend on how much money we make off of it. But we can tie the two together by pursuing jobs or careers that tie into our common thread. As we develop skills through practice and job training, we will find that our passion will help us thrive in these positions, leading to more opportunities.
Too often we think of passion as something we need to go out and search for. The trick is to take the search inward. Don’t seek out something mainstream or popular and aspire to force it into a passion. Find the common threads in our interests, spend time developing these skills in our personal time, seek positions in the workforce utilizing these threads, and watch passion bloom.